The new Covid-19 restrictions imposed on the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday came as no surprise.
The upswing in infections in parts of the Western and Eastern Capes had led to speculation that the government might impose stricter restrictions.
Ramaphosa said the surge in infections could be seen in the average number of new cases reaching 1 500 a day in the first week of November.
“By the last week of November, this had almost doubled to an average of around 2 900 new cases a day. Yesterday [Wednesday], South Africa recorded over 4 400 new infections, the largest daily increase in infections since the middle of August.”
Although the increase in infections was the most notable in Nelson Mandela Bay and the Sarah Baartman District in the Eastern Cape, and the Garden Route District in the Western Cape, the tighter restrictions were only applied in Nelson Mandela Bay.
This means that from 00:01 on Friday, December 4, in Nelson Mandela Bay there will be a:
- Curfew from 22:00 to 04:00 (the curfew will not apply to essential workers);
- Alcohol sales will be restricted to between 10:00 and 18:00 Monday to Thursday;
- Alcohol consumption in public is strictly forbidden;
- Religious gatherings limited to 100 indoor, 250 outdoor;
- The total number of people in a venue may not exceed more than 50% of the capacity of the venue; and
- Post-funeral gatherings are now prohibited.
The new restrictions come as there has been a resurgence in the spread of the deadly virus in much of Europe and the US.
In many cases, the resurgence has been larger than the initial outbreak earlier this year.
Ramaphosa said for SA to not go down the same road, the country will have to continue to take the necessary preventative measures until the vaccines can be distributed.
“We can only prevent a second wave if all of us respect the rules that have been put in place for the protection of everyone.”
So far, there have been a total of 800 872 confirmed cases in SA since March, and around 92% of these people have recovered. There were 21 803 people known to have died from Covid-19 as at December 3.
Ramaphosa said progress has been made in the development of a vaccine.
“We are participating in the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 Global Vaccine Access Facility – known as the Covax facility – which aims to pool resources and share vaccine development risk and thus ensure equitable access to vaccines when they become available.”
He said he is encouraged by the promising results from three trials of candidate vaccines, which have shown efficacy levels of between 70% and 95%.
The Solidarity Fund will be making the initial contribution of R327 million towards this vaccine procurement on behalf of the country.
Ramaphosa however cautioned that until the vaccines are ready to be distributed, people still have to wear masks in public at all times, observe social distancing, and avoid large gatherings and indoor spaces where ventilation is poor.
They should also regularly wash or sanitise their hands, and download the Covid Alert SA mobile app, which can notify them if they are exposed to the virus.
The president not only ended by once again calling on South Africans to stand together, he this time also evoked the national anthem.
“We will get through this period of difficulty as we did the ones before. May God bless South Africa and protect her people.”